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Curt Schilling rips the Phillies for not keeping Cliff Lee

Apr 1, 2010, 7:57 AM EDT

Curt Schilling was asked how he likes the Phillies this year. If you think his response was a diplomatic and conventional “I think they’ll be a good ballclub” kind of thing then you’re not familiar with Curt Schilling’s work:

“I think trading Cliff Lee was the stupidest thing they’ve ever done,
and they didn’t have to. They didn’t have to do it. It
was a stupid, stupid move. They could’ve had a World Series berth
locked up right now with those two guys at the top of their rotation. Those guys would’ve finished legitimately 1-2 (as) Cy Young candidates
on the same staff. You’ve got Cole Hamels in the three
slot, which is a dream come true for both. They would’ve been a 110-win
team.”

He goes on and on, of course, dismissing the Phillies concerns about organizational depth which they claim to be the primary reason for the Lee trade (i.e. they wanted some prospects back) and claiming that Lee may have been even more valuable to the Phillies than Halladay in some ways because of his postseason experience, saying “Doc’s never pitched in October. I think he’ll be great and be awesome
and all that stuff, but he could get to October and not be the guy.”

Setting aside Schilling’s silly claims that Cliff Lee would make the Phillies a 110-win team and that Halladay will somehow forget how to be awesome in October, I can’t help but think that there’s some psychological dynamic at work here on Schilling’s part. The writer of the story makes a comparison of Halladay and Lee to Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling on the Diamondbacks with which Schilling appears to agree. Schilling is obviously making an egotistical assumption that his path to success — as the part of two-Cy Young pitcher quality staff — is the optimum, if not the only way to build a champion. Moreover, in that comparison, Schilling clearly is Cliff Lee: the obviously excellent but still inferior pitcher. The prospect of Lee being traded away is, in Schilling’s mind, the equivalent of a rejection of Schilling himself, thus causing him to lash out with a fury and resentment even he himself cannot fully understand, acknowledge or control.

OK, you know what? I don’t like getting in Curt Schilling’s head. It’s kinda scary in there (reminds me of this) so let’s forget it.  How about this: if the Phillies had done with Lee what the Diamondbacks did with Johnson and Schilling and all of the other veterans that won that 2001 World Series, there would be an increased likelihood that they, like the Diamondbacks, would crater competitively a few short years later, crushed under veteran salary obligations and a relatively bare minor league cupboard.

Ruben Amaro decided that he’d rather build something for the long term. It may or may not work, but I think the effort is entitled to far more respect than Schilling — who basically claims that Amaro is just trying to cover his butt — gives it.

  1. Josh - Apr 1, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    I think your response is based on your feelings about Curt Schilling. He’s objectively right: the Phillies DIDN’T have to trade Lee. The fact that they insisted on doing so is, in fact, completely stupid. The fact they traded him before the season started, not even waiting until July, when his value would have potentially been even higher and the Phils could at least have gotten, I dunno, 10 wins out of him, is, empirically, STUPID. It was a stupid, stupid trade.
    As for “wanting prospects” to help “organizational depth,” uuuhhhhh…why would the Phillies cry about depth when they were really onlt being asked to give up Kyle Drabek for Halladay? They could have kept Michael Taylor, but chose not to. They still have Domonic Brown. Tyson Gillies and Phillippe Aumont are not, repeat NOT, great prospects who will contribute anytime soon. So, this excuse smells like last week’s garbage.
    Bottom line: Philadelphia could have sent Drabek and maybe Taylor to the Jays and kept Lee. They could have traded Lee at any time in-season for any prospects they wanted. The return they got from Seattle is a joke when you consider the calibre of prospects they sent to the Mariners. Thus, to say they are better off without Lee, Taylor, and Drabek because “they got some (inferior) prospects back” and that having 2 Cy Young-quality pitchers on a staff is worse than having 1 plus some far-off prospects down on the farm, is ridiculous. Curt Schilling – perhaps for all the wrong reasons – is right on this one, and I wish more people would get on the Phillies for doing such a dumb deal simply because “everyone” expected the to.

  2. Gus - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Josh – If you are going to speak of empirical stupidity, be sure to get your facts straight.
    First, the Blue Jays didn’t just want Drabek. They wanted, at the minimum, Taylor or Brown – two of the highest ranked position prospects in baseball.
    The Phillies didn’t “choose not to” keep Taylor. He was part of the deal to get Halladay. No Taylor, no Roy. With Jayson Werth approaching free agency, Taylor, a right-handed bad, was going to be a big part of the Phillies’ future. Trading him was not the ideal situation.
    Second, how much more would the Phillies have received by trading Lee at the trade deadline? Teams typically aren’t going to pony up huge prospects for a two or three month rental. Besides, if the Phillies started 2010 with Lee in the rotation, then you can be sure that the end the season with him, too. Assuming, of course, they didn’t crash and fall out of contention. Trading him in July makes even less sense than trading him in December.
    Third, regarding your take on the Phillies organizational depth: Between the Lee and Halladay trades, the Phillies lost seven players. Two (Drabek, Taylor) were highly touted, while others (D’Arnaud, Marson) were mid-range, with the other three being solid, yet unspectacular prospects. They re-couped three of those with the Lee trade to Seattle. Not every decision is made thinking about the now. Some are made thinking about the future.
    “I wish more people would get on the Phillies for doing such a dumb deal simply because “everyone” expected the to.”
    Actually, very few expected them to trade Lee. It was not a popular decision at the time, and it still isn’t a popular decision. You’re confusing the lack of people ‘getting on the Phillies’ with ‘it’s over and the Phillies have a better pitcher so why bother talking about it.’ Opening Day is on Sunday, and there is no sense in beating a dead horse.

  3. Evan - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:06 AM

    Of course the Phils didn’t have to trade Lee, but completely stupid? Come on.
    Is it a completely stupid trade if Lee misses significant time this year? He is starting the season on the DL. What about the fact that Lee is a free agent at the end of the season and indicated he didn’t want an extension? Lee’s highest trade value was when they traded him, not during his last season under contract.
    They locked up an ace pitcher for several years then reduced their 2010 salary responsibility to try to have some semblance of a budget.
    Yes, the Phils may not be as strong in 2010 as they could be with Lee but they are still damn good, and they know where they are salary wise for several years.

  4. JudyJ - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:30 AM

    The Phillies made a good move by trading Cliff Lee. Right now he has an injury and who knows that that is all about. Secondly, they now have Matt Halliday so that makes Lee the #2 which means he would be looking to free agency for sure at the end of the season. Thirdly, he probably looking to go to the Yankees at the end of the year. Fourth, he is really an American League pitcher. So for all Schilling says (sorry to say that he really doesn’t know everything about everything except in New England) the Phillies made a good move for all involved including Lee. It really wasn’t about money it was about what probably amounted to a conversation Lee and his agent and the owners had about the future.

  5. Jonny5 - Apr 1, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    We won’t know how smart or how stupid it really was to trade Lee away until later in the season. So far Lee hasn’t been all that great. He was suspended and injured most spring. Plain and simple Lee was picked up only to stop the bleeding from the Phills rotation, They picked up Pedro for gods sake. As far as throwing Lee a large long term contract over Halladay? That’s laughable as Lee has a tendency to become injured much more so than Halladay does. Amaro wasn’t ready to stick his neck out on Lee and sign him to a long big dollar deal, plain and simple. They just got over the burn from Adam Eaton. Halladay for three years is way sweeter. Not everybody can be the Yankers or Bosox and just pay whatever ransome is thrown their way. Schilling suffers from micropeniscepticism. I’ve seen it before, he has all warning signs, he’s a textbook case.

  6. JB - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:02 AM

    Matt Halliday is one helluva pitcher.

  7. Bill - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Judy:
    What exactly is an American League pitcher? One that excels in the AL? The AL is the better league. Lee would’ve been excellent in the National League and will be fine this year, is healthy.

  8. Infinite Wisdom - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:14 AM

    Good thing he’s finally in the NL so they can get his bat in the lineup.

  9. Beanster - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:21 AM

    “Matt Halliday is one helluva pitcher.”
    Thanks JB that just made my day :)

  10. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:41 AM

    We won’t know how smart or how stupid it really was to trade Lee away until later in the season. So far Lee hasn’t been all that great. He was suspended and injured most spring. Plain and simple Lee was picked up only to stop the bleeding from the Phills rotation, They picked up Pedro for gods sake. As far as throwing Lee a large long term contract over Halladay? That’s laughable as Lee has a tendency to become injured much more so than Halladay does.

    Nothing to add, this just needs to be repeated

  11. enough already - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:47 AM

    What’s the link “(reminds me of this)” about? I can’t open it.

  12. Craig Calcaterra - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:49 AM

    It’s a link to the scene in “Being John Malkovich” when JM leaps into his own head and everyone looks like him and can only say “Malkovich”

  13. Nasty Boy - Apr 1, 2010 at 10:58 AM

    That backstabbing sob should lay down and die. He’s out of baseball and should keep his big mouth shut. He’s a scumbag.

  14. enough already - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:04 AM

    Excellent! Thanks.

  15. Perry - Apr 1, 2010 at 11:09 AM

    I think Shilling just likes to hear himself talk. It seams to me he is just trying to stay relevant in the sport that he is no longer participates in. I also don’t quite understand the constant talk of the Johnson/Shilling combination. If I remember correctly it was a bloop single against M. Rivera that won the World Series for Arizona. If not for that bloop single would anyone even care about the Johnson/Shilling combination?

  16. Tired - Apr 1, 2010 at 12:30 PM

    Tsk, tsk. Sounds like somebody’s still not over 2004.
    See Perry’s comment above for a much better construction of why nobody should really care what Schilling says.

  17. IdahoMariner - Apr 1, 2010 at 1:50 PM

    I totally loved that the Sox won the WS in 2004 — those playoffs rocked — and I have to second Nasty Boy’s comments. (well, except for the lay down and die. that’s a bit much. but shut up, Curt.)
    But I also have to second Perry’s comments(and yours). He’s just a blowhard. Unfortunately, one that seems to want to run for political office and keep blathering…
    oh, and Craig: thanks for the explanation of the link — I can’t get youtube or anything like it at work, so I appreciated it, too
    and — that picture of Curt always cracks me up. and then makes me want to punch him in his little smug maw.

  18. JudyJ - Apr 1, 2010 at 5:37 PM

    I knew I made that mistake – meaning Roy – but of course you wouldn’t offer help on that correction. Perfection really is great, isn’t it? Apoolgies to the STL Matt.

  19. JudyJ - Apr 1, 2010 at 5:41 PM

    Nobody said Lee couldn’t do well in the National League – and he did and excelled during the Series. However, I think most of the discussion surrounding Lee remain his preferences. He is more familiar with the American League – hitters, pitchers and umpires, designated hitters, etc.

  20. JudyJ - Apr 1, 2010 at 5:42 PM

    and you listen to Curt Schilling as if he actually knows what he is talking about. LOL

  21. JudyJ - Apr 1, 2010 at 5:45 PM

    Sure, not over 2004 – that’s it. Schilling is your hero and that says everything about you.

  22. Tired - Apr 1, 2010 at 6:33 PM

    JudyJ–Try re-reading my post or get someone who has comprehension skills help you. I’m not a Red Sox or Curt Schilling fan. If you’ll notice, I even said Schilling wasn’t worth listening to; exactly HOW does that make him my hero? All I did was have a little fun with NastyBoy, knowing from other posts that he’s a Yankee fan, especially since he was a bit over the top with his deathwish for Schilling. Pity you aren’t capable of telling when someone’s just making a joke.

  23. Rusty - Apr 2, 2010 at 10:08 AM

    Schilling is 100% correct.
    A team in the Phillies’ position should not be trading away an ace for prospects.
    It was an indefensibly stupid move.

  24. CJ420 - Apr 2, 2010 at 11:07 AM

    I think left out of all of this discussion is the possibility that Lee is not a great teammate. I’ve certainly heard that over the years and his public comments seem to back it up. It’s possible this played a large part in the trade decision. The fact that he’s now suspended for throwing at someone – IN SPRING TRAINING – also seems to help this argument.

  25. JudyJ - Apr 2, 2010 at 11:51 AM

    I suppose you are really Tired – I don’t care what you meant or mean to say. While I never said it or thought it, you probably are a SAWKS fan and that makes Schilling your hero. It’s Good Friday, try telling the truth sometime.

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